Expo lauds Bella Terra
DOVER, Del. — Bella Terra Landscapes, based in Ellendale, Del., received the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association’s Landscape Award at the Delaware Horticulture Industry Expo & Annual Pesticide Conference in January.
Designer Justin Bartels accepted the award, given for outstanding work at the home of Daniel and Kathy Zachem on the canal in Lewes.
The company faced such challenges as not blocking the water view and accommodating specific plants requested by the homeowners.
Space allotted at the Modern Maturity Center was packed on both days, with 390 in attendance on Jan. 17.
Presentations ranged from information on gardens at Chanticleer, both botanic gardens in Delaware and Holly Shimizu’s private gardens to “Plants I Love to Hate” by Richard Buckley of Rutgers University and business advice from a retired professional boxer. These were in addition to talks on pesticide safety, weed control, plant diseases and insect pests.
Amy Shober, University of Delaware Extension specialist, discussed problems experienced with soils on sites where new homes have been constructed.
Problems are created when topsoil is removed, soil is compacted by heavy machinery and materials are buried on site.
Fertilizer and irrigation won’t solve such problems, Shober said.
Over time, things may improve, but meanwhile, find out what you’re dealing with. Get a soil test and address major problems. Prepare the soil, replacing topsoil or adding good quality soil and/or compost. Prevent erosion. Finally, select appropriate plants. Don’t count on native plants doing well if your soil is no longer native.
Chris Fehlhaber, assistant horticulturist at Chanticleer, came prepared to share 108 photos of the garden near Philadelphia and kept his composure when the computer refused to display them until alternative equipment was pressed into service.
Although the garden is only open from the end of March through early November, the garden has year-round interest, as Fehlbaber’s photos showed. Blooming in February are snowdrops, hellebores and witch hazel.
Each year, Chanticleer has a different crop in its edible garden. Masses of lettuce, the staff discovered, were beautiful even when bolting to 3 or 4 feet tall.
In addition to sharing information on how to reduce pesticide exposure, Dr. Kerry Richards of University of Delaware Extension directed pesticide applicators to a new website for the pesticide safety education program: extension.udel.edu/ag/psep.
The site contains a wealth of information, including rules for certification and training materials for Worker Protection Standard and a long list of helpful forms located under “forms and resources.”
There is also information on the Environmental Sweep Program through which farmers, commercial applicators, nurseries, green houses, golf courses and pest control businesses can qualify for free pick up and removal of up to 500 pounds or 50 gallons of pesticides.
Dave Tiberi, retired boxer, said he had been a landscaper “in fourth grade, one summer in Bear, Del.”
Named one of the 50 most influential Delawareans of the past 50 years by Delaware Today magazine, he founded, with his wife, a company called Emergency Response Protocol.
He also uses his boxing experiences to help children, adults and business professionals through community organizations, including his own boxing boot camp.
Tiberi shared some coaching:
• “Train your people so well that they are qualified to leave; treat your people so well they will want to stay;”
• “What you do speaks so loud, people can’t hear you talking;” and
• “Nothing can stop a man with the right attitude; nothing can help a man with the wrong attitude.”
The lack of goal setting is a serious problem, Tiberi said. Less than 5 percent of the population sets goals, and only half of those people write them down. “All you have to do is believe in your mission and in yourself.”
Presentations on the second day included master plans for both botanic gardens in Delaware.
Dr. John Frett, director of the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens in Newark said the first plants there were installed in 1957.
The primary purpose then was education for the university community. Over the last 30 years, portions of the garden have been developed for specific purposes, but until now, Frett said, the garden had not been considered as a whole.
The master plan will make UDBG more of a public garden. One road will be removed entirely; another closed to vehicles.
A parking lot in the center will be replaced by a colorful garden with walking paths.
An orientation center, complete with public restrooms, will be added early on.
“It’s a 25- to 30-year plan,” Frett said. “It will be done in stages.”
Greg Tepper described progress at the new Delaware Botanic Garden at Pepper Creek in Dagsboro.
The 37-acre site is being developed in stages.
Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf designed the Meadow Garden which was planted in the fall.
It took 22 days to plant 65,000 plants, Tepper said, 85 percent of which were native. Tepper anticipates the garden will open to the public in September.
Holly Shimizu, recently retired executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden, shared photos of the gardens at her two homes in her talk on “Healthy Gardens for People and the Environment.”
She lamented the fact that plants always get “the lowest place on the ladder” and the least amount of funding from homeowners.
For example, a couple will spend a half-million dollars on a house, but refuse to pay $100 for a plant.
Shimizu’s husband is a Japanese garden designer from whom she has learned a garden does not need flowers to be beautiful.
She focuses on plant communities and native plants.
It’s easier to replace specimens in a mixed planting than a row of evergreens all the same size and kind. English ivy and Bradford pear are banned from her garden.
In her “freedom lawn,” whatever grows there is free to grow. “We just mow it,” she said. She keeps the moss, which “upholsters the landscape,” although she admitted “weeding it takes patience.”
She is working with neighbors to put in rain gardens to keep the water where it falls.
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